For the second consecutive week, Danica Patrick started 18th, she finished 19th, and a Team Penske car won.
Patrick’s starting and finishing positions were the same as they were last week at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, but rather than Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski scoring a win as he did in Chicago, it was his teammate, Joey Logano, who took the checkered flag in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.
This was Patrick’s fourth straight top-20 finish as she continues to improve in the last part of her second full NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). Patrick finished sixth three weeks ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, 16th two weeks ago at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and 19th last week at Chicagoland. The four results are Patrick’s career-bests at these tracks.
She was in the top-15 for much of Sunday’s event and ran as high as fifth on lap 248. But a combination of numerous cautions, being on old tires and saving fuel cost her a chance at a top-10. She fell to 10th on a lap-253 restart and then by lap 278 had fallen to 23rd as other cars muscled past her.
On lap 292 Patrick and crew chief Tony Gibson decided to bring the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS to pit road for two tires and fuel. The fresh tires helped a bit and she wound up 19th – not where she hoped to finish, but another top-20.
“It’s too bad,” Patrick said. “I had a good GoDaddy Chevy. We should have finished top-15 or top-10, but the cautions at the end killed us. We were lucky to get tires at the end and get 19th. Tony Gibson and the guys gave me a good car, but it just didn’t work out. We got another top-20, but we should have been better. I’m pleased we seem to be getting better, and I’m excited for Dover.”